The Danger of the Single Story’: African Americans’ Anticolonialism in the Early Cold War

Carol Anderson, Emory University

We know the story. Historians have told it for more than forty years.

After the onset of the Cold War, fierce anticolonialism emanated solely out of the black left, which paid dearly for opposing U.S. imperial policy. Paul and Eslanda Robeson, W.E.B. Du Bois, W. Alphaeus Hunton, and even, in his own twisted way, Max Yergan came up against the Leviathan of the Red Scare and lost. Meanwhile African American liberals, such as the NAACP, turned their backs on Asians and Africans determined to be free, colluded with the Truman administration’s support of European empires, and received, in return a few pieces of civil rights tokens. We know the story. It’s just not true.

Culture and U.S. Foreign Policy During the Cold War

Frank Ninkovich, St. John’s University 

One of the preeminent intellectual historians of our time, Ninkovich delivers here his most ambitious and sweeping book to date. He argues that historically the United States has been driven not by a belief in its destiny or its special character but rather by a need to survive the forces of globalization. He builds the powerful case that American foreign policy has long been based on and entangled in questions of global engagement, while also showing that globalization itself has always been distinct from—and sometimes in direct conflict with—what we call international society.

Daddy Issues: Legacy vs. History at Our Presidential Libraries

Tim Naftali, New York University

Down on the Midwestern Farm: Security and Empire as seen from the ‘Isolationist Capital of America’

Kristin Hoganson, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Why has the legend of U.S. isolationism endured so tenaciously? Starting from the premise that the legend is as much about place as politics, this talk reconsiders the history of the rural Midwest, the so-called isolationist capital of America. Finding that Midwestern farmers were anything but isolationist in the years leading up to World War I, it explores the tensions between seemingly national interests and efforts to forge transborder alliances. Grappling with both their own economic prospects and Malthusian concerns, Midwestern farmers struggled to balance nationalist commitments with transnational occupational solidarities; self-interest with a desire to forestall hunger. From meterological congresses to the consular service and ecological transformation, Midwestern farmers’ many engagements in foreign relations not only challenge assumptions about locality, they can also help us understand the relationship between security and empire.